No consensus reached on Iranian gas prices, says Turkish energy minister

Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Taner Yıldız, said on Tuesday that although negotiations with the Iranian delegation accompanying Iranian President Hassan Rohani on his Turkey visit went well, concrete consensus on the price of Iranian natural gas had not been reached.

Yıldız said at a press conference that Turkish officials expressed their dissatisfaction about the current price of gas imports with their Iranian counterparts, and discussed an arbitration process that Turkey has been pursuing on the issue.

“They [Iranians] submitted their four-page offer. We said this offer was not enough for Turkey,” the minister said.

When asked if Iran will cut the price of its gas exports to Turkey, the Iranian president told reporters on Monday that gas prices were on the table at a High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council meeting.

“The gas prices depend on several parameters. It is not so easy to make a decision on natural gas prices. The issue was on the agenda,” Rohani added.

Asked the same question, Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan said that ministers on both sides will discuss the issue, adding that he hopes they reach consensus.

“If we come to a mutual agreement, [Turkey] can increase the amount of natural gas imported from Iran. We can provide cheaper gas for the Turkish people; our efforts are to that end. We can produce cheaper electricity at natural gas [combined] cycle plants. The necessary instructions have been given,” Erdoğan said.

In 2012, Turkey took Iran, a major energy trading partner, to an international court of arbitration, arguing that Iran was overcharging Turkey for its natural gas.

Turkish, Iranian leaders encourage mutual investment

President Abdullah Gül and Rohani stressed that the trade volume between Turkey and Iran is not at the desired level and that bilateral economic relations should be developed by removing obstacles to mutual investment.

Speaking at the Turkey-Iran Business Forum organized at the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) building in Ankara on Tuesday, President Gül said that in order to achieve the two countries’ goal of $30 billion in bilateral trade volume, investors in both countries should be encouraged. Gül also stressed that Turkey and Iran face some difficulties in implementation, adding that customs procedures two neighboring countries need to be standardized.

“We have a strong border that has been established for 400 years. Why would we not encourage mutual investment as much as possible?” Gül said.

Turkish truckers have been crying foul over the extra fuel surcharges being imposed on them as they exit the Middle Eastern country. Iranian officials say fuel prices in the country are lower than in Turkey due to state subsidies so the country charges Turkish truckers higher taxes to make up for the difference in price.

Speaking at the same conference, Rohani said that he hoped the business forum would be a turning point in increasing trade volume between the two countries, emphasizing that trade barriers should be eliminated.

“We certainly have to develop our economic ties further,” said Rohani, adding that capital from each country should flow into the other as investment.

The Iranian president also stressed that it is important to build bridges between the two “regional powers,” adding that Turkey and Iran should not act as rival economies.

Meanwhile, on Monday Rohani and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan co-chaired the first meeting of the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council aimed at increasing the volume of trade between the two neighbors to $30 billion by 2015. Turkey and Iran agreed to establish the council during Erdoğan’s Tehran visit earlier this year, and the meeting chaired by Rohani and Erdoğan marked its first-ever gathering.


About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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